Category Archives: Society

Why the EU matters

Is there life for capitalists after the present, ill-fated EU? Of course there is, if they choose to abide by harmonious humanity and not rampant individualism. PROUT points to a true European and global socio-economic renaissance of welfare and progress for all.

​Photo: From an anti-EU rally in Athens, Greece.

By Trond Øverland

The European Union (EU) matters because Europe is where democracy took root. Europe is also the place where a great deal of modern political thought emerged. It is the continent of the Enlightenment, industrial revolution, and the economic system of capitalism.

Consequently, to most people today the EU is a powerful politico-economic structure stemming from the cream of the time-honoured European political think-tank hailing back to ancient Greece. Certainly the EU has great symbolic value to the entire world. Should its structure break down, its collapse will echo everywhere.

Normally, people of a society feel strongly for their community, as it provides them with a sense of unity, common momentum, mutual support and agreement, cooperation, combined reserves against uncertainty, etc. This is also true for a system that is about to break. There, two belligerent sentiments emerge in conflict – one group holds on to status quo while another embraces a fresh vision of community based on values different from those of the current establishment.

Deep down the EU is based on crucial factors of capitalist industrialism. The four pillars on which the mighty EU structure rests are free flow of: capital, work force, goods, and services. This capitalist fundament has given both European and global capitalists a free hand in Europe and has turned the EU into a perfect vehicle for capitalism in politically sensitive Europe.

Here an important question arises: What sort of community does capitalism generate?

Essentially, capitalism is not about society, it is about individuals. Capitalism allows one individual to become rich at the expense of others, even to the extent of making millions paupers and debt slaves. It is therefore natural that the new vision growing out of resentment against scarcity and destitution is a rebirth of society, a renaissance of human culture.

At the economic level, such visionary collective sentiments may initially express themselves as protectionist attitudes and self-centred policies; in the form of localised approaches focusing largely on local people’s needs and resources. This is where the existing EU should have started, with a vision of the welfare of the entire locality.

Buildings have to be built from the bottom; it is not possible to build anything concrete from the top. But the masters of global capitalism, with their exclusive focus on spin-off economics in the global casino and total lack of interest in the real economy, certainly think otherwise. Therefore the present EU structure is about to crumble. In its stead the Europeans have to develop a new organization, this time from the bottom-up, and not from the imaginary sky of giddy capitalists.

Is there then life after the EU for capitalists? Can they exist and even thrive in a genuine bottom-up society? Of course they can, if they choose to abide by harmonious humanity and not rampant individualism. The capitalist tendency is a natural human trait, and like all other human traits it should exist in agreement with other human traits and not take precedence over all and sundry. Industrial dynamism and competent management of capital is a priceless, benevolent social resource. It should not however be given free rein so as to profit individuals exclusively but should exist for society as a whole and for all its individuals.

PROUT is the only theory today that points to a true European and global socio-economic renaissance of welfare and progress for all. Among PROUT’s principles that addresses this vision most conspicuously, we find the first fundamental principle of PROUT and the principle of socio-economic unity in diversity – the idea of numerous samajas functioning well together in ever-increasing economic, cultural and political synthesis.

The Responsibility of Society

By P.R. Sarkar

(June 1960) – The essence of the parallel psychic waves of society is determined by the medium [average degree] of the following factors:

  1. a common language;
  2. similar manners and customs;
  3. a similar mode of living;
  4. similar traditions;
  5. racial similarity;
  6. religious similarity;
  7. a common culture; and
  8. a common objective or goal.

Unfortunately, these factors are generally neglected at the time of building a social structure because they are not the causes of the collective psychology but the means through which the collective psychology flows. In actual fact a common sentiment, common psychic waves, form the essential vital force of a social structure. This is the reason we say that society is the expression of parallel psychic waves, and arises because of the mental tendency of moving in unison.

“When building a social structure we should give the highest priority to the spiritual goal … even if they expand psychically, people become self-centred if they lack a spiritual goal, and group sentiments develop in their minds.”

It is clear that society is supported by the immense collective power of many individuals. This is why the popular concept of society is that of a collection of individuals. But a mere aggregate of many individuals whose psychic waves move in different directions, that is, whose psychic waves are not parallel but divergent and distorted by dissension, cannot be called a society.

In a family, where each individual gives importance to the comforts and well-being of the other members, however physically or intellectually underdeveloped they may be, we see a society in miniature. There are many families in the world where every member is concerned about the welfare of the others, despite differences in their physical or intellectual capacity. This is an ideal family. This should also be the ideal form of society, although this is extremely rare today.

Society has a responsibility to maintain and utilize its common property in a proper way. Society should ensure that all are given equal usufructuary rights to this property so that everyone can live together with a healthy body and mind.

Today the world is following either capitalism or extreme materialism. Under these systems, those who are endowed with greater knowledge, intellect or physical power go on misappropriating more and more material wealth. People have forgotten that together with physical wealth we also receive subtle wealth from the Supreme Operative Principle. A member of a family who does not feel a sense of unity with the other family members and does not recognize the logically-acceptable necessity and the lofty principle of joint rights, cannot be regarded as a social being. According to a universal spiritual ideology, the system of individual ownership cannot be regarded as absolute. This is why our concept of society does not support capitalism.

In a joint family every member satisfies his or her desires and need for food, clothing, medical treatment and other requirements according to the financial capacity of the family. If a certain member of the family accumulates more food, clothes, books or medicine than he or she needs, will the other members of the family not face difficulty? In such circumstances that person’s actions will be unrighteous and detrimental to society. It is the responsibility of society to immediately dismantle such a defective social system.

In the world today the capitalists are accumulating an increasing amount of wealth and possessions, leaving others to suffer acute pangs of hunger. They are forcing people to wear rags so that they can parade in ostentatious clothing. To increase their strength, they are even sucking others dry of their vital juice. It is the responsibility of society to use all possible means to make these people understand their mistakes and stop their antisocial activities.

The aspiration to become rich by exploiting others is always a kind of psychic ailment. Capitalists argue, “We amass wealth through our intellect and labour. Let others also amass wealth in the same way if they have the intellect or capacity to work. Who will stop them?” They do not want to accept that the number of consumable commodities in the world is limited, but all need their basic necessities. If one person is rolling in wealth this will generally mean that others will be deprived of even their minimum requirements. The failure to recognize the needs of others is itself a disease. But the victims of this ailment are also our brothers and sisters, members of the same human family. Either through human appeals or circumstantial pressure, these people must be cured of their psychic ailment. In order to do this we will have to channelize their obsession with material wealth in a mental and spiritual direction. At the same time as people’s physical hunger and thirst are being satisfied, everyone should be freely taught scientific processes to fulfil their psycho-spiritual longings.

There should be a social order in which every one will work according to his or her capacity. Those with greater physical capacity will provide physical labour, and those with greater psychic capacity will provide psychic labour. It is the responsibility of society to look after those who are unable to render either physical or psychic labour.

Society should not grant social rights only to those who have the physical capacity to work. All should have equal rights; and the rights of one individual should not violate the rights of others. Everybody should be guaranteed the inviolable right to develop themselves psychically and spiritually to the best of their capacity. There should be no obstructions of any kind. But in order to preserve social peace and joy, the individual right to go against the collective interest in the physical sphere must be withdrawn.

When building a social structure we should give the highest priority to the spiritual goal. Everybody will have to realize this. Even if they expand psychically, people become self-centred if they lack a spiritual goal, and group sentiments develop in their minds. Such people cultivate mundane knowledge but not spirituality. Spirituality involves the contemplation of such questions as “Who am I?”, “What is my goal?”, “How can I reach my goal?”, etc. Today’s intellectuals are impeding the spread of spirituality because they are morally deficient and their psychic waves are going against the collective interest. As a result, immorality, corruption and dishonesty are rampant in society. A strong and healthy society will stop this trend.

A study of history will make it clear that a strong and healthy society has not yet evolved on this planet. This is mainly due to the inadequate propagation of an ideology. Although at different times a few people thought of establishing a strong and healthy society, they used argument and debate instead of deliberation and reason to convince others of the need for such a society, and ultimately ended up projecting themselves instead of the ideology. Thus the ideology became secondary and was ultimately swept away because people started worshipping them as elevated souls or spiritual beings. Due to the absence of an ideology a strong society could not be established, and many defects crept into individual life.

Lord Krśńa was the first to attempt to build a strong and healthy society, but he lost a lot of time due to the Mahábhárata war. Ultimately he did not have enough time to build a human society. Similarly, Lord Sadáshiva, the original propounder of Tantra, had to devote much of his time to building a strong foundation for spirituality, and despite his immense desire, he could not build a strong social order. Today, the combined power of both will help to build a healthy human society.

"The Responsibility of Society", PROUT in a Nutshell Part 5
Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2012

The Spirit of Society

By P.R. Sarkar

The spirit of the word Samája (society) signifies a group of people who move together. All are not of equal strength or intellect. Hence the shortcomings in one must be compensated for by another. Different people have varying abilities: some have physical strength but no brains; others have the brains but not the strength to work; and others have neither the strength not the brains, but work well and with a peaceful mind under the guidance of their supervisors. We can always see around us people of differing types and qualities. Judged by the crude codes of this world, no one is totally independent. Everyone relies on someone else in some way or other. Everyone makes up for their deficiencies by taking help from others. Whenever a large group of people strive to make up for their relative differences on terms of mutual understanding, we call it a society or society.

“There are some fundamental problems
applicable to all which are to be solved by all.”

What is society like? It is like a group of people going on a pilgrimage. Try to imagine the scene! Suppose one of the pilgrims is struck down by cholera. Will the rest of them continue on their way, leaving the sick man behind? No, that would be inconceivable for them. Rather, they will break their journey for a day or two, and cure him of his disease. If he is still too weak to walk they will carry him on their shoulders. If some people run short of food, others share what they have with them. Together they share their possessions, and together they march ahead, singing in unison. In their eagerness to move ahead with others they forget their trifling differences which might have led to angry exchanges and court cases in their families, even down to three generations. It is because of the petitions of the complainant in a land dispute that some people go so far as to spend ten or twenty times more than the piece of land is worth. The essence of cooperation resulting from this collective movement aims at expanding a person’s mind by striking down the barriers of meanness. I repeat that a true society is like such a group of pilgrims who attain a deep psychic affinity while travelling together which helps them solve all the problems in their individual and social lives.

If we take the full meaning of the term society into consideration, it will be seen that till now human beings have not been able to form a real society. If India builds a society for only Indians, Pakistan for only Pakistanis, and England for only the English, then three separate societies will exist, but we cannot look upon them as the society of humanity. Because humanity is divided into groups, one society will naturally try to thrive by exploiting the vitality of others. On observation you will notice that efforts are being made to establish so-called societies in some particular part of the world, for some particular section of the people, and based on some particular “ism” or faith. A social consciousness based on such divisions lies latent in the minds of the people, whether they are Indian, Pakistani or English, so they remain absorbed in thoughts of their smaller groups. It is actually due to some external impact that social consciousness takes the form of a really all-embracing Indian, Pakistani or English consciousness. The social consciousness of an enslaved nation is never more keenly felt than when the people are at war with the dominating colonial power. After independence that consciousness is lost.

Examples of antisocial fissiparous tendencies do not stop here. Even in different regions of the same country people do not live within one social group. The creeds of the Brahmins, the Rajputs, the Kayasthas, and other different castes urge people to belong to their own societies. And yet the antisocial spirit of self-differentiation does not end here. There are the even smaller groups of Bundellas, Rathores, Sishodiyas and Caohans among the Rajputs, and there is the antisocial eagerness for relative supremacy in the social sphere between the Pain’ca Gaodiiyas and Pain’ca Dravidiis of the Brahmins.

To what state has society effectively been reduced? I reaffirm the fact that human beings have still not been able to form a human society, and have still not learned to move with the spirit of a pilgrim. Although many small groups, motivated by self interest, work together in particular situations, not even a small fraction of their work is done with a broader social motive. By strict definition, shall we have to declare that each small family unit is a society in itself? If going ahead in mutual adjustment only out of narrow self interest or momentary self-seeking is called society, then in such a society, no provision can be made for the disabled, the diseased or the helpless, because in most cases nobody can benefit from them in any way. Hence it will not suffice to say that all people marching ahead is only a collective form of segregated psychic phenomena; for in that case there always remains the possibility of some people getting isolated from the collective. All human beings must attach themselves to others by the common bond of love, and march forward hand in hand, then only will I proclaim it a society.

You will hear many a vain and assuming person say, “I don’t need anyone’s help, I’m doing very well by myself. I don’t want to concern myself with anyone else’s affairs and I don’t expect anyone else to bother about mine.” Nothing could be more foolish than this statement. Medicine and nursing are necessary to cure diseases; the neighbours’ help is needed to cremate a dead body; and for the regular supply of food and cloth the cooperation of farmers and spinners is essential. Remember, no created being in this universe is independent. No one can exist alone, everyone has a supra-cosmic relationship with the whole, at times prominent, at times indistinguishable. In this scheme of mutual relationships, even the slightest mistake or discord will raise a furious furore in the universe.

In this mighty creation, the brilliantly luminous sun and the tiny ant have the same existential value, having combined together to make the universal family. Similarly, in human society, the importance of a powerful and eminent person is no less than that of a disabled and dying patient. None can be ignored. The least injustice done to anyone will cause the break down of the entire social framework.

In this universe of living beings there are some fundamental problems applicable to all which are to be solved by all. These problems may be taken as the common features in the life and Dharma of living beings, and the all-round health of living beings depends on the happy solution of these problems. The more these problems are solved with mutual cooperation, the more beneficial it will be. We must remember in this regard that rights and responsibilities belong to all. Lack of consciousness about rights and responsibilities drives social beings towards a tragic end. It results in the collective fate of living beings being determined by a particular dominating group. The vital energy of society is sapped through such group or class exploitation. Nature’s wealth belongs to all living beings. What is a burden to the earth is a burden to all. Disregard of these ultimate truths eventually leads to disorder in social life, and society’s potentialities are destroyed before they have a chance to develop.

Why have schools been established? Is it not to enable children to learn? All parents want their progeny to acquire knowledge and develop intellect. But even today many parents are unable to send their children to schools. Why is this? Surely, everyone should be given equal opportunities to benefit from any institution established for public welfare. This is everyone’s birthright. Some people wear a mask of culture in public, but in private pursue personal or class interests. This hypocrisy has no place in the human society. It is the cause of the sad state of education in the world today. The same is true for the supply of food, clothing, housing and medical care. The significance of founding a true society lies in solving all problems in a collective way.

There are some tendencies and instincts which are manifest in both animals and humans. In fact, these tendencies are the evidence for existence of animality in humans. These tendencies may be suppressed in the face of stern rhetoric, but to do that is not only undesirable but impossible, because they support the principle structure of existence. Having identical tendencies, humans and animals both belong to the same category of living beings. The difference lies in the fact that the animal in a human body can refine those tendencies and express them in a more subtle manner. This refinement is called culture. To eat is equally essential for all, but people, even when extremely hungry, do not rush up to the table like dogs and sit down to eat with total disregard for their surroundings. Unless their hunger is more powerful than the faculty of reasoning, they will wash their hands before eating. This is a part of culture.

Civilization is not unchanging. There is nothing stationary on this earth – everything is dynamic. Civilization is also a progressive phenomenon, moving from good to better, from imperfection to perfection towards the ultimate goal: perfect Brahma. The greater the tendency of refinement in people, the more cultured they are. We must remember that refinement and hypocrisy are not the same. There is a heaven and hell difference between the external show and the inner motives of a hypocrite, and the inner and outer consistency of a refined individual. Whatever is done in a refined way, is done with reasoning and propriety, and thus, instead of being a cause of social breakdown, will be a cause of social well-being. Let me give an example. The drinking of water is basically an animal instinct. It would reveal a complete lack of culture for anyone to drink drain-water simply because they were thirsty. To ascertain whether the water is pure before drinking, and to ensure that all towns and villages receive a regular supply of pure water, are signs of a civilized society. But to say, “I’m doing a dry fast” after having secretly drunk a glass of water is the height of hypocrisy.

Judged in the relative perspective, the more civilized we become, the more helpless we become. A new-born baby is completely helpless. Just think of the plight of a helpless child in the delivery room the very first day it appears in society! The more cultured people become in a refined social environment, the greater their sense of duty for their children. For this reason children lose the capacity to do anything themselves. According to the Laws of Nature, the more developed the mother’s affection and intellect, the more dependent the child becomes on its mother. In the animal world, the lesser the maternal affection, the shorter the time it takes the offspring to grow strong and selfdependent. Nature takes the responsibility of assisting those neglected offspring by providing them with the necessary survival instincts. A baby monkey has to learn quickly to cling to its mother’s belly as the mother needs to use all four limbs to jump around the forest. The mother can’t carry her baby by its neck, because the baby would die if its neck was twisted. A kitten, however, is blind at birth and thus unable to see its mother, let alone cling to her belly. Thus mother cat is obliged to carry her babies in her mouth. A baby rhinoceros, on the other hand, runs away from its mother after birth! And rightly so, for the mother’s tongue is so rough that several licks might actually kill the baby. The baby rhinoceros waits for its skin to harden a little before returning to its mother.

Society must ensure that proper care is taken of human babies who are totally dependent on the care and protection of their parents for their existence. These helpless children can only convey their pain and discomfort through tears. To raise children from infancy to maturity is an immensely important task. I have said before that the members of society must advance in unison. The newborn babe is another traveller on the path. To adopt a child as our companion, as one included in the society, is called the “Játakarma” of the child.

Living beings may be divided into two main groups based on intellect: those who want to share their wisdom, and those who do not. Those who favour the exchange of wisdom have a greater social awareness. But those who oppose it cannot develop a collective social mind due to a lack of mutual understanding. Human beings are basically beings of social inclination. They must always remember that those possessing little strength and ability, and those not provided with the means to survive the struggle for life by Nature, must be led along in companionship. Those who take great pains to assist the helpless are more civilized and endowed with greater awareness. They are the socially-minded beings who readily embrace the underprivileged, the downtrodden and the rejected people of society.

From "The Spirit of Society", A Few Problems Solved Part 6
Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2012

Ideological Foundations of Progressive Socialism – 4

World Habitat

By P.R. Sarkar

Every atom and molecule of this universe is the common property of all living beings. This has to be recognized as a matter of principle. After recognizing this fact, statements such as, “This is indigenous and that is foreign”, “So-and-so is qualified for the citizenship of such-and-such country while others are not” and, “Such-and-such community will get certain political rights, neither more nor less than that”, are totally irrelevant. In fact, such statements nakedly expose the vested interests. Where the people of one country suffer due to lack of land or food, while those of another country have abundant land and plentiful food, what else is it but a type of capitalism!

All people have the right to travel and settle anywhere and everywhere they like and live as dignified human beings – this is their birthright. If certain groups in any country refuse to accept this fundamental right of human beings, then it is to be understood that their slogans for peace are nothing but mere hoaxes intended to hoodwink the people. What to speak of this tiny earth, every planet, satellite, star, meteor and galaxy is the homeland of human beings! If anyone wants to deprive people of this birthright, human beings will have to establish it by force.

All countries are my native land; I shall select my own homeland.
(Sab deshe mor desh ache ámi sei desh laba bújhiyá)

From Problems of the Day (1958)

Copyright Ananda Marga 2012

Ideological Foundations of Progressive Socialism:
1) One family
2) Morality and spirituality
3) Socialization
4) World habitat
5) Universalism
6) World government

Social Security and the Authority of the State

By P.R. Sarkar

Each and every individual wants security from the state and the demand for security is always increasing. Increased responsibility means increased authority. In ancient times the only duty of the state was to protect people from internal and external chaos. Now, as a result of ever-increasing demands, the responsibility of the state has increased and its authority has also increased. In ancient times no body demanded food or employment from the government. There were no strikes and no public meetings. Now people want the state to realize its responsibility, but they do not want it to interfere in any matter.

“Diversity is the law of nature. So there cannot be any hard and fast rule about guaranteed minimum requirements.”

PROUT’s view is that we must not go against fundamental public interests or against the fundamental theory. The fundamental theory is that with increased responsibility the authority of the state should also increase, but while operating its authority the state should not go against public sentiments. The fundamental public interest is that the minimum requirements of life should be guaranteed.

It may be questioned whether it is wise for any government to guarantee the minimum requirements. If the state is to supply cereals, pulses, salt, gram, ghee, butter, etc. to all people then naturally the state has to institute some process of control which people may not like. Hence PROUT’s view is that people should be guaranteed the provision of sufficient purchasing power to meet these requirements. In that case the state need not adopt control measures. The other disadvantage of guaranteeing the supply of minimum requirements is that if consumable goods are supplied to everyone, people will become lethargic. They should therefore be supplied with purchasing power in exchange for their work according to their physical, psychic or spiritual capacity.

Diversity is the law of nature. So there cannot be any hard and fast rule about guaranteed minimum requirements. They will vary according to time, space and person. A few persons with extraordinary physical, metaphysical or intellectual ability may demand something more than ordinary people. Special amenities have to be provided for them. Certain items like food, housing, education, clothing and medical facilities are minimum requirements.

Nothing is stationary; everything is moving. So the minimum requirements and special amenities will also undergo changes with the changes in time, space and person. What should be the approach of Proutists? There should be a never-ending endeavour to minimize the gap between minimum requirements and special amenities. Minimum requirements will take the place of special amenities and extraordinary persons will get more items as special amenities. The third Five Year Plan prepared by the planning commission of India presents an unwholesome picture – it presents unsystematic and unplanned government activities and the planned exploitation by vested interests. Though there has been inordinately high investment, the purchasing power of labourers has not been sufficient for them to meet the minimum requirements. Hence, while on the one hand labourers received less consumable goods due to less purchasing power, on the other hand entrepreneurs have captured excessive purchasing power and consumable goods causing excessive disparities in wealth. Economic balance has been upset. The major part of the capital investment went to the entrepreneurs and a microscopic fraction went to the labourers. There is therefore no middle class people in India of the type that existed in pre-independence days. Today well-dressed labourers have become the so-called middle class.

Human unity is purely an ideological unity, which means unity in the psychic sphere. Where there is psychic unity, physical unity will also occur. In the realm of unity, unity is always psychic – ideological unity means unity in the subtlest level of the mind. However, psychic or ideological unity may be affected if we encourage the exploitation of one group by another. So to avoid this there should not be any scope for exploitation in society. And to ensure this we have to start a new order to safeguard the interests of the exploited masses. So for a proper social synthesis what we require is a common philosophy of life; that is, ideological unity. But to check exploitation in the physical sphere requires something more than this, and this something more comprises a common constitutional system, a common penal code, and the availability of the minimum essentialities of life.

These things should be provided for the entire human society, as they are inter-linked with one another. Hence till now these things were based on people’s faith, local manners, customs, usages, etc. Generally local manners and customs do not go against cardinal human principles but sometimes they do go against them. Legal structures were prepared on the basis of these faiths. Hence up till now there have been certain differences between sin and crime. Legal structures do not totally follow the system of usages, but only follow them to some extent. For example, Islamic customs say that to accept interest is a sin, but this is not a crime in Islamic countries according to the law.

From “Talks on PROUT”: “Security”
PROUT in a Nutshell Part 15
Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2012. All rights reserved.

Go With the Flow!

By Dada Maheshvarananda
One night in 1985 a huge fire broke out in a slum in Manila. Nobody was hurt, but more than 50,000 people lost their homes.

I am a monk of the international organization Ananda Marga, “The Path of Bliss”, which teaches yoga and meditation free of charge and organizes social service projects. The center where I was then living was only one kilometer from the fire. Another yoga monk, Dada Arghyananda, and I stood in our driveway watching the glowing horizon and listening to the news our local volunteers were bringing back from the streets.

He said, “We should do social service.”

Because our organization had no regular source of funding, I constantly worried about the survival of the three monks and eight brothers living in our center. I thought for a moment and said, “Altogether we only have ten kilos of rice and a total of about eight dollars. How can we do social service now?”

He replied, “Don’t argue. Just go with the flow.”

So we spent five dollars and sent the eight brothers by bus to the all-night wholesale market to ask for donations of vegetables for the fire victims. He and I walked to the site of the fire and spoke to a few people he knew.

Everyone was in shock. A nun at a Catholic convent beside the site of the fire agreed to let us distribute food there. On the way home, we stopped to buy two cans of milk and fresh ginger with the last of our money. I said, “We’re not going to feed many people with that.”

He replied, “Don’t argue. Just go with the flow.”

So we heated up a big pot of ginger milk and at 2:00 in the morning carried it back to the convent and started distributing it. Just as we started, a stranger tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t go — wait here.”

I’m not going anywhere, I thought, I’m distributing milk. Just as we finished the pot, he suddenly returned in his van and said, “I was so inspired by what you two are doing that I bought $200 of bread. But I don’t know how to distribute this, so you please do it.”

So Dada and I each picked up some sacks and headed in opposite directions along South Superhighway where all the people were camped at the side of the road. As I handed the bread to everyone who was awake, some fellows joked, “What, no margarine?” But they weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me, clearly touched by what we were doing.

At 5:00 we returned to our center. The boys had just arrived back with a huge collection, twelve big sacks full of vegetables. Immediately we started cooking a big pot of “lugao”, Filipino rice soup mixed with vegetables.

At 6:00, as the dawn was breaking, three brothers carried it to the fire site with a tiny table and a little banner that said: “Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT) – Service to Humanity is Service to God.” And we immediately started cooking a second pot.

I started telephoning all our members and invited them to come help. And then I started phoning everyone else we knew—sympathizers, businesspeople to whom we used to teach yoga, friends and friends of friends. I asked every one to please contribute some food for the fire victims.

At 7:30 a car arrived with a 50-kilo sack of rice. Then another car came with a case of beans, and another car with two more sacks of rice. And on it went.

Someone lent us a second burner stove and a big team of volunteers happily cut vegetables together. We never served breakfast, lunch or dinner to the fire victims — we just served lugao continuously from early morning until late at night for three days. And that’s all we ate, too, for three days.

Finally, on the morning of the fourth day the government social service department started to distribute uncooked foodstuffs to the victims, and the poor people were adjusting in new shacks they had constructed. The need for our service was over.

The front page of the “Bulletin Today”, the largest national newspaper in the Philippines, reported on their front page that, according to their reporters, AMURT had distributed milk and bread to 2,000 fire victims the first night, and fed 20,000 people over the next three days.

All those people were fed with only ten kilos of rice, eight dollars – and a lot of solidarity and grace.

Dada Maheshvarananda began working in 1976 as a volunteer for Ananda Marga in the U.S., then trained in India and Nepal as a yoga monk. For fourteen years he worked in Southeast Asia teaching yoga and meditation and supervising social service projects for AMURT. In 1992 he moved to Brazil, where he taught weekly meditation classes in prisons to help the inmates transform their lives. He is an author and has given hundreds of lectures and workshops to groups around the world about social issues, spiritual values and cooperative games. He can be reached at:
Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT):

The Practical Approach

P.R. Sarkar
Human beings are not yet looking towards the actual maladies that afflict society. Various occupational groups have formed societies and associations based solely on a sense of individual or group interest. Consequently they try to solve every social problem only from the perspective of their own interests. They do not want to help solve the problems of the lower echelons of society. Not even one per cent of the energy that is spent to pull people down from the top of society is utilized to elevate those at the bottom. This is the greatest tragedy.

It is incorrect to think that no one has ever individually considered this problem in the past. I am not referring here to the social philosophies of the last few hundred years; nor to the social revolutions of that period; nor to the social conscious of different thinkers of that period. In the Middle Ages some people thought deeply about solutions to the problem of social injustice, and a few of them even tried to do something. But neither am I referring to the philanthropic overtures made to the poor by some capitalists. I am referring to those who thought that it was virtuous to plunder the wealth of the capitalists and distribute it among those in need.

The Robin Hoods of the medieval period perhaps thought that this was the best way to eradicate social disparity. But this does not work, so it did not work.

In nearly every country of the world such Robin Hoods have emerged, but they have not been able to solve the problem of social injustice. The main reason is no one can survive on charity. Such an approach only creates a society of beggars. This type of greedy, indolent and inactive society promises even greater poverty in the future. Moreover, plundering the wealth of the rich does not destroy capitalism, because although robbery may reduce the assets of the capitalists, it does not destroy the seed of capitalism. The adventures of medieval heroes may excite some people today, but they cannot be a source of genuine inspiration. It may be possible to snatch away the wealth of the rich by violent means, making them paupers, but this will not permanently prevent them from again becoming rich. Violence begets violence. Hordes of demons who lose their wealth become greedy for human blood, and plot greater conspiracies in the future. The less intelligent thieves are ultimately destroyed by them. The thieves suffer greater punishment at the hands of the exploiters than the exploiters suffer at the hands of the thieves.

Violence does not solve any problem, because whatever poisonous tendencies of the individual and collective minds may be destroyed by violence, the seeds of those tendencies remain embedded in the mind itself. When the pressure of circumstances is relaxed they may again sprout forth, creating even greater evil.

Then where does the solution to this problem lie? A change of heart is absolutely necessary, but such a change will never be possible through violent means. If someone who is tormented by incessant hunger does not express his or her hunger due to fear of the collective force of society or pretends to be free from hunger, it does not mean that he or she has acquired the peace of mind that comes with not being hungry or will not engage in ruthless acts of violence to appease his or her hunger if he or she gets the opportunity.

Some people are of the opinion that only humanistic appeals and no other approach can effect a change of heart. Although the principles of such people may be high, in reality the soil of the earth is extremely hard. Their appeals to do good cannot easily gain support.

What are humanistic appeals, or satyagraha? They are simply a special means of using violence to create circumstantial pressure. We can, in fact, call them the intellectual’s method of using violence. They are a way to make people eager to move along the path of human welfare without resorting to actual violence, relying on legal enforcement, or becoming angry and adopting the path of bloodshed. Or, in simpler language, they are a way to compel people to move.

What is circumstantial pressure? Does it not aim to vibrate the individual or collective mind with the wave of collective welfare through the application of force? In fact, this approach is an attempt to touch the aspect of the human mind which is very tender and capable of responding to humanistic appeals. Thus, those who have finer sensibilities and rational judgement readily respond to humanistic appeals, or satyagraha.

This sort of appeal does not hold much value for those with crude minds. To vibrate the minds of such people it is, and will forever remain, necessary to influence their minds by giving them a rude shock. Otherwise one will have to wait indefinitely for the sensitive violin strings of some secret recess in their hard minds to be similarly vibrated by high-minded appeals to do good. And meanwhile the existence of the helpless, exploited people, on whose behalf these appeals are being made, will have been reduced to dust.

That is why no matter how much importance was given to the benevolence of the human mind by the Gandhian and Bhudan movements, or how saintly their propounders may have been, selfish and mean-minded people will never accept their principles. The bleeding sores on the feet of marching protesters will never be able to soften the minds of ruthless exploiters. Gandhism may be an excellent utopian model, but in the harsh reality of the world it is absurd and self-righteous.

Yes, the human mind must be vibrated, and for this one cannot wait for the application of the sentient force or humanistic appeals. Rather, all necessary steps must be taken to create circumstantial pressure. I do not consider it at all improper if exploiters are forced to follow the right path by circumstantial pressure in a totalitarian state or by legal compulsion in a democratic one. However, the primary objective is not simply to use any means available to create a vibration in the minds of exploiters. Proper moral training must also be imparted to keep the waves of that vibration alive, and there must be a ceaseless endeavour in individual and collective life to perpetuate the waves of that vibration. One must maintain one’s zeal so that, with the passage of time, the momentum of the vibration does not slow down. Its vigour and vitality should not turn into stagnation. Staticity should not creep into the hidden corners of the human mind.

Those who depend solely on magnanimity of mind or on humanistic appeals are bound to fail. And those who aspire to establish communistic systems either through legal methods or at bayonet point without changing the hearts of the people, without implementing development programmes and without introducing moral and ideological education to reform people’s bad habits, are also bound to fail. If we do not equate this communism, established at the cost of so much suffering, with robbery, then we must consider it rather worse than robbery, because it suppresses through brute force the natural life-urge for self-expression. It runs contrary to human nature to be suppressed like this. The suppressed human mind will revolt and find avenues to express itself. (If some people want to call this type of expression counter-revolution they may, but I would not.) People do not like to lose their innate human qualities or spiritual potential, to be reduced to an animal-like existence, only eating and procreating; they cannot live like that.

Yet in order to make people “magnanimous” and “virtuous” through the application of brute force, individual liberty has to be ruthlessly crushed. Total power has to be concentrated in the hands of a particular group or party, and under these circumstances there is no alternative but to deny one’s special value as a human being. To recognize people’s value would only invite trouble, because then people would have to be granted freedom to express their opinions, or at least the right to demonstrate that their opinions are beneficial for society. And if this is accepted, it will have to be indirectly accepted that it is unjust to suppress human beings through brute force. If this is conceded, then the so-called communism which took so much effort to establish would be jeopardized as a result. Within a short time the group or party in whose hands the power was concentrated would be ousted by the collective psychic and spiritual efforts of the masses who had newly attained freedom.

That is why neither Gandhism, nor the so-called communism which is based on brute force, can bring about human welfare.

People will have to adopt a path where there is sufficient scope for humanism or for humanistic appeals to be made, and which at the same time allows for brute force as well as the application of other types of force if necessary.

From Human Society Part 1, “Various Occupations”

Copyright Ananda Marga Publications 2011

Rational Society

(PROUT Globe) – Human beings share a fair number of mental characteristics. One is that they degrade by heeding debasing instincts and sentiments. Another is the sentiment to live together and not alone. These two basic traits of human mind make for some thinking in socio-economic and political fields. We want to live together and in order to do it we need to constantly elevate and not vitiate our individual and collective mentality.

A primary riddle any society faces is how to share its wealth – material, mental and spiritual wealth. These three types of wealth each have their specific area of application and effect on both individual and collective life.

Material wealth is limited in both existence and scope. It is also of absolute necessity to each of us in terms of physical existence. In order for all of us to have enough food, shelter, clothing, medical care and education, material wealth must therefore be shared by all properly.

The proper sharing of physical wealth calls for some rational decision-making based on subtler values. The natural downward trend of the mind – toward narrow-mindedness, groupism, hankering after selfish enjoyment, etc. – can’t possibly lead to just decisions in this area. Conversely, the consequence of opting for higher values would be that people with a minimum of spiritual and moral consciousness should be entrusted with important collective decision-making.

How can we determine who among us are potential leaders with such qualities? Instead of guessing or listening to what political fortune hunters have to say, we may simply look at people’s active social service record, their lifestyle, their general way of interacting with others. In short; we may try to get an understanding about the basic values that move them in life. People who consistently put subtle human values into action should be encouraged and supported to take up leadership in their locality and at higher levels.

If we were really smart we would especially encourage those who actively seek social and spiritual enlightenment for themselves and others to decide for us in collective matters, not those who follow the slippery slope downward.

The primary duty of suitable administrators would be to first take into consideration everybody’s general needs. Once these have been secured for all, special material needs and just deserts should be determined and provided – the socially meritorious and those with urgent needs should be allowed to share the surplus in order to create a further forward trend.

In order to achieve these goals, no one should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth beyond the basic necessities without permission from society.

Over and beyond that, administrators have to see to it that everybody’s subtle and spiritual needs are fulfilled. While crude matter belongs to the outer world, mental and spiritual wealth is an inner property of human beings. Such wealth may therefore be shared by all without dividing it. It is therefore not harmful if anybody goes ahead and realizes as much as he or she can of the mental and spiritual.

Acquisition of non-material wealth is beneficial and necessary for a strong political structure that can safeguard just administration of material wealth. Access to the subtle and spiritual spheres should be unbarred.

The duty of social leadership is to ensure that each and every citizen can make efforts to expand his or her mental and spiritual pabulum and use it for the benefit of others. This progressive socio-economic principle is the only guarantee that the natural downward trend of the mind – individual or collective – is checked and permanently remedied.

Here we observe the following: Physical wealth may be shared justly by all only if everybody’s access to it is limited, whereas mental and spiritual wealth may be shared by all only if unlimited access to them is effected. And the success of the former depends on the materialization of the latter.

Neither capitalism nor communism was able to share material wealth in a progressive manner, not to speak of subtler wealth. It is up to a new generation of seekers of consciousness to ensure that all types of wealth are being harnessed and put to progressive use within a well functional socio-political set-up.

An age of selfish material greed is nearing its logical end. Let us join in the new movement, and put worldly wealth into proper perspective in order to allow ourselves to enjoy the unlimited for the benefit of all.

Copyright PROUT Globe 2011

Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar on Social Wealth

We should not forget even for a moment that this whole animate world is a large family in which nature has not assigned any property to any particular individual. Individual ownership has been created by selfish opportunists so that they might take advantage of the defects of this system in order to grow fatter in a parasitic way. When the whole property of this universe has been inherited by all creatures, how then can there be any justification for a system in which someone receives a flow of huge excess, while others die for lack of a handful of grain?
Problems of the Day

The aspiration to become rich by exploiting others is a sort of mental malady. In fact, if the eternal hunger of the human soul does not find the real path leading to mental and spiritual wealth, it becomes engaged in the work of depriving other of their rights; it robs them of their material resources. If any member of a family seizes food from a store by application of mental or physical force, he certainly becomes the cause of misery to others. Similar is the case when a capitalist says, “We have seized wealth by intelligence and labour. If others have mental and physical potentialities they may also do it. Who objects to it?” They do not want to realize that the volume of commodities is limited whereas requirements are common to all. In most spheres, abundance for one individual takes the bread out of the mouths of others. It is a mental ailment not to understand this common necessity.
Problems of the Day

But the people afflicted with this malady are also members of this vast human family and consequently, they are our brothers and sisters. Therefore, they will have to be cured of this disease either through humanitarian appeals or pressure of circumstances. It will be a great crime even to think of their destruction.
Problems of the Day

It must always be remembered that the value of money lies in its use. If more money is accumulated than is necessary, it becomes valueless for lack of use. The money you keep idle and valueless makes you responsible for the injustice done to the hungry and the naked. Your valueless hoard shall have to be made valuable by providing opportunities for others’ use.
– Human Society I

Let everyone enjoy as much as they like on the subtle mental plane. Let everyone possess as much mental and spiritual wealth as possible. But individual hoarding of mundane resources and wealth must be stopped, even by force if necessary. Really speaking, both physical and mental cravings are born of mental hunger. It is certainly possible to transform the craving for physical enjoyment into intellectual hunger by channelling it toward a different goal through proper education. Human society today is badly in need of such education.
Human Society Part I

The availability of the minimum essentials of life plays a vital part not only in achieving a world family but also in the development of the personality. This problem should be tackled on a world-wide basis. Every human being must be guaranteed certain minimum requirements. The availability of food, clothing, medical assistance, education and housing should be arranged, so that human beings may be able to utilize their surplus energy in subtler pursuits – energy which until now has been engaged in procuring the essentials of life. To fulfil the above responsibilities, sufficient purchasing capacity should be created. If the necessities are guaranteed without demanding any personal skill or labour, the individual may develop the psychology of idleness.
Idea and Ideology

The minimum requirements of every person are the same, but diversity is also the nature of creation. Special amenities should therefore be provided, so that diversities in skill and intelligence may be fully utilized, and talent is encouraged to contribute its best for human development. It will thus be necessary to arrange for some special remunerations to provide special amenities according to the age and time. But at the same time, there should be a constant effort to reduce the gap between the amount of special amenities and the minimum requirements of the average individual. This never-ending effort of proper economic adjustment must ceaselessly continue, fostering the spiritual, mental and physical evolution of humanity and the development of a cosmic sentiment for a world family.
Idea and Ideology

In such a socio-economic program, human beings have full liberty in the spiritual and mental spheres. This is possible because the spiritual and psychic entities for which human beings can aspire are themselves unlimited, and one person’s progress in this sphere does not hamper the progress of others in their quests. But the supply in the physical sphere is limited, and thus any effort for disproportionate or unrestricted acquisition of physical objects may create a vast majority of “have nots.” This hampers the development of the total personality of humanity. So individual liberty must not exceed established limits in the physical sphere. At the same time it must not be so drastically curtailed that a human being’s spiritual, mental and physical growth is hindered.
Idea and Ideology

Ours is a subjective approach and an objective adjustment – the happy blending between objective world and subjective goal. While moving towards the subjective goal, you must maintain adjustment with the objective world. There is no other alternative. When the human society is ensconced in this supreme idea, in the very near future it will become more constructive, with proper planning. Humanity of the entire universe will unite, and we are anxiously waiting for that happy moment.
– From a discourse in Caracas, Venezuela, 1979

I want every human being to be guaranteed the minimum physical requirements of life; every human being to get scope for the full exploitation of his or her psychic potentiality; every human being to attain absolute truth; and endowed with all the glories and achievements of the world, to march toward the Absolute. In and through this movement, humanity should be made conscious of the purpose and meaning of life.
The Great Universe

The Importance of Society

(1978) – Samánam ejati iti samájah: “Society is the collective movement of a group of individuals who have made a unanimous decision to move together towards a common goal.” When the members of a society come to a unanimous decision, “We’ll move together, we’ll live together in good times or bad,” then their collective movement is known as Samaj or society. Some may have moved far ahead; some may have lagged behind. Some may be unable to walk due to pain in their legs. Some may have fallen on their faces. Those who do not even care to look after their companions trailing behind them are not worthy to be called members of society.

The proper thing is for all members of the society to move in unison; and while moving together, each member should feel a responsibility for every other member of society. Those who are unable to move must be carried so that the rhythm of the collective movement remains unbroken. At present, we will have to look at everything in this world from the perspective of our solar system, even if we do not yet look at things from a cosmological perspective. We must move ahead, looking upon this solar system as one integral entity. But in the future, human beings from other planets and satellites will join our movement; we will have to build our society together with all. We will have to look upon this whole world as an integral entity.

What do we see today? In some homes people are rolling in luxury; in others people are dying of starvation. One section of society is breathing a free atmosphere of light and air while the major portion of society, perhaps 80% of the population, has been kept confined within their four walls. That is, one section of the population has been granted license to do whatever they please, and no one even raises a finger in protest, while the other section, if they make even the slightest mistake, is subjected to severe treatment by the society. This sort of discriminatory treatment cannot be tolerated.

Discrimination has been practiced for a long time. But today the gap between an educated and an uneducated person has become almost too wide to be bridged. A male member of a family may be highly educated while his wife is totally illiterate: the gap between them is extremely wide. There are various undesirable social discrepancies like this. Even if there is no acceleration in our speed, we will have to bring with us all those people who are moving slowly or who have lagged behind. If, while moving with all, my speed decreases somewhat, this will have to be accepted. But we must move together; this is the Supreme Truth. Those who wish to move together with all require sufficient physical and psychic strength. In addition to that, if they really wish to move collectively, they must possess some additional strength as well. That is why I tell you that you must not be like average people: you will have to be above average. It is not enough to move alone, you will have to take others with you, and for that you will have to acquire additional strength. You must prepare yourself accordingly.

Some time ago I said:

Trividhaduhkasya átyantrkii nivrttih paramárthah.
“That which brings permanent relief is called Paramártha.”

Suppose a man has no clothes and feels cold. Having no money he cannot afford to buy clothes and having no food, he feels hungry. If he gets some money he can remove his hunger by procuring food and thus he can remove his afflictions. People buy food, clothes, etc., with money and so money in Saḿskrta is called artha. But it should be remembered that money is only artha and not paramártha, for Paramártha means “that which removes one’s afflictions forever” – once the afflictions are gone they will never return. Suppose we buy food with money today; tomorrow we will again feel the pangs of hunger. So, money is artha, not Paramártha. Paramártha is that which brings permanent cessation from the triple afflictions – physical, mental and spiritual.

All the afflictions in the physical sphere are due to lack of food, clothes and the like. Now the question is, to what extent can money remove these afflictions? You can at best temporarily relieve them, but the next day the trouble will return again. The only way to bring permanent relief is Paramártha. With the help of Paramártha, human beings can develop such a social order that there will never be a shortage of food and clothes, etc. This will require a fundamental change in the social order. And those who are the pioneers in such a task, what will they do? They will have to acquire far more strength than average people. The pioneers who want to travel through thick jungles will have to clear part of the jungle and build a road. Once the road is constructed, those who come behind will be able to travel easily through that jungle.

What is the nature of psychic afflictions? Suppose we remove the mundane problems forever. PROUT was formulated for this very purpose of removing mundane problems and helping human beings attain the Greatest Good (Paramártha) I have not said anywhere that society should give plenty of money to everyone; I have only said that the purchasing power of each and every person should be increased. Suppose the price of rice is Rs. 5 per kilo: it does not matter if the per capita income is as much as Rs. 1,000. Whether the salary is high or low is not the point: the main thing is the purchasing power. If the purchasing power of each and every individual is increased, there will be no physical trouble. But, supposing physical troubles have been removed, psychic afflictions will still remain. Even at that stage there is pain and grief, there are sorrowful feelings and sentiments. Everyone mourns the death of their nearest and dearest ones; so the psychic afflictions remain. To eradicate them, one must undergo proper psycho-spiritual training so that one’s mind can be properly prepared to fight against adverse circumstances. All responsible members of society will have to do this. Here, whom do I mean? I mean those who have realized that they will have to acquire the requisite power, or even more than the requisite power, in order to equip themselves for the onerous task before them. Those who do not have the capacity to realize this, those who have understood little, are also our blood brothers and sisters; they, too, are our close relations. So in order to help them, we must acquire a little more strength than necessary. Otherwise we will not be able to help them.

Take the case of India. We are not as developed as we should be. Why? One of the reasons is that we have kept women confined within the walls of their homes, resulting in the progress of only fifty percent of the population – the males. And as only the men are progressing, they will have to carry the load of 50% of the population. Thus the speed of progress is reduced. Ideally, women should also move with their own strength and with the same speed as their male counterparts. In the process of movement, if they feel pain in their legs, if they fall on their faces, they should be physically lifted up. But not only women may need assistance: the males may also fall down, and then it will be the duty of women to extend their helping hand to carry the load of their male counterparts. We cannot expect that, in relation to men, the position of women will remain one of subordinated cooperation: it may also be one of coordinated cooperation. The position of males may even be one of subordinated cooperation. Nothing can be said emphatically in this world. The fact is that we must move together in unison with all.

In the psychic sphere too, the same practice should be followed. Those who have begun to realize this should understand it still more deeply. As a result they will be able to comprehend the position of those who have less capacity to understand or to judge.

The third category of affliction is spiritual affliction. Whatever people might say outwardly, they know that they are the progeny of the Supreme Consciousness, and that He is always observing them. They know that they are never alone, not even for a moment. Even confirmed atheists, whatever they might say verbally, pray in their heart of hearts, “Oh Lord, please save me.” So, those who say that they do not believe in God, or words to that effect, should be labelled as hypocrites for they do not speak their minds. No indulgence should be given to hypocrisy. All human beings know that Parama Puruśa belongs to them, and that they belong to Parama Puruśa. But in spite of this knowledge they cannot easily attain Parama Puruśa with their whole being. The pain caused by this non-attainment of Parama Puruśa is called spiritual affliction. One can overcome spiritual affliction only through spiritual practice, through meditation. The supreme and final aspect of meditation is devotion. One may not possess knowledge or intelligence; but if one has devotion, that is enough. So devotion must be aroused by all means. After coming in contact with a devotional person, thousands and thousands of people may also become devotional.

Many are aware of the fact that Mahaprabhu Caetanya Deva had a great devotee, Yavana Haridas by name, who was of a low caste. When Haridas would do kiirtan, Mahaprabhu would often touch his body. The orthodox pandits would say, “You’d better take a bath in the Ganges now, otherwise you won’t be able to enter the house.” So, Mahaprabhu had to take a bath in the Ganges, even in the winter’s cold. How troublesome for him! Haridas used to say, “Thakur, why do you touch my body? For this you have to take so much trouble at night.” However, Mahaprabhu would still touch him. So Haridas used to sit at a little distance from Mahaprabhu, and when Mahaprabhu was about to touch him, he would run away as fast as he could. But Mahaprabhu was about 20 years old at the time and Haridas was much older than him. So how could he escape from Mahaprabhu? Mahaprabhu would easily overtake him. Then Mahaprabhu would again have to take a bath in the Ganges. With tears in his eyes, Haridas complained, “Oh Lord, why do you touch me? What do you gain thereby? You simply have to undergo a lot of trouble by having to take a bath on a cold winter’s night.”

Mahaprabhu said, “Haridas, you are such a good devotee, you have such devotion in your heart, that I just wish to touch you and thereby make myself holier. You are full of so much devotion that you can make the whole universe holy.” Devotion has tremendous power which neither knowledge nor action has. Rather, people of knowledge, the jiṋániis, have a subtle sense of vanity, of which common people are afraid. So they maintain some distance from the jiṋániis saying, “Good heavens, they are such scholars, how can we go near them?”. But no one is afraid of people with devotion. Rather they think, “After all they are devotees, so let us go and sit near them for a while.” So, if you can arouse devotion, then by coming in contact with you, thousands upon thousands of people will attain real Paramártha and spiritual salvation. That is, in order to attain liberation from the triple bondages – physical, psychic and spiritual – you will have to attain Paramártha: and you will have to attain it in such a way that those who are spiritually undeveloped will also be benefited by your contact.

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